In Beijing’s dynamic culinary scene, two Sichuan-style restaurants have garnered international recognition, cementing their places in the revered Michelin Bib Gourmand category. “Lao Chuan Ban” and “Yibin” have evolved from their historical roots as former representative offices of Sichuan and Yibin in Beijing to becoming culinary icons in the city.
These eateries, traditionally called “Zhu Jing Ban,” which translates to the “local government’s representative office in Beijing,” have morphed into gastronomic hubs that resonate deeply with the city’s historical narrative. They now stand as testimony to the region’s diverse, delicious, and affordable culinary heritage. Despite their popularity, which often translates to long queues, these establishments remain rooted in authenticity.
Historically, “Zhu Jing Ban” served as lodgings for visiting officials from provinces, equipped with restaurants that catered to their regional culinary preferences. This home-away-from-home concept ensured that officials could savor familiar flavors even miles away from their hometowns. Over the years, these venues, once reserved for officials, opened their doors to the broader public, allowing both locals and tourists in Beijing to embark on a culinary journey through China’s diverse gastronomic landscape.
China’s lifestyle-sharing platform, Xiaohongshu, features numerous posts lauding “Zhu Jing Ban” and its delectable offerings. These posts share experiences, dish recommendations, and even tips to tackle the queues, underscoring the restaurants’ immense popularity.
For many Beijing residents, dining at “Lao Chuan Ban” and “Yibin” represents a culinary voyage through China’s regions. Beyond just food, they offer a range of local treats, from traditional snacks and confectionery to exotic pickles, making them a treasure trove for food enthusiasts.
Sichuan cuisine stands out for its bold, spicy flavors, rich seasoning, and diverse dishes. This distinctive style, infused with chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, and ginger, offers a palate-enriching experience.
“Lao Chuan Ban,” backed by the Sichuan government, is a beacon of traditional Sichuan cuisine. Established in the late 1970s and revamped in 2021, it offers a blend of traditional favorites and regional specialties. In contrast, the “Yibin” restaurant, representing Yibin City, specializes in the nuances of Yibin cuisine, a sub-genre of the larger Sichuan culinary family.
One standout dish from “Yibin” is “Li Zhuang Bai Rou,” which features thinly sliced, near-translucent pork leg meat paired with a delightful dipping sauce. Furthermore, their Yibin noodles, priced attractively at around $1, have amassed a dedicated following, with their tantalizing blend of peanuts, chili oil, noodles, and crispy bean sprouts.
A local resident, Liu, who has lived in Beijing for a decade, praised the restaurant’s offerings, emphasizing that, apart from the lengthy wait times, the experience is unbeatable.
These two Sichuan establishments, though rooted in tradition, continue to evolve and captivate food enthusiasts. They not only offer a slice of Sichuan in Beijing but also epitomize the rich and varied culinary traditions of China.